It’s been a while since I played through a Tom Clancy game. In fact it may have been back on the Playstation 2 with Ghost Recon so it’s fair to say that I went in to The Division with an open heart and an open mind. Now, running on current gen hardware and PC the next Tom Clancy instalment launched on March 8th 2016 with The Division.
We are in Manhattan and we are in the middle of the post events of a smallpox pandemic. This pretty much destroyed New York City as we knew it and instead created a crime fuelled dystopian society. What was once a bustling city, full of tourists, workers and success transformed in to a war zone with tired looking people, collapsed surroundings, danger and disease. Ubisoft play this out with a reel of fictitious news castings at the beginning of the game. This did a great job at setting the tone and hype for the campaign that was about to ignite. From there, I could create my player attributes and off we ventured in to the dangerous Manhattan streets.
The Division is an open world MMO with some seriously tasty RPG elements. A Role Playing Game you might ask? I wouldn’t categorise The Division as an RPG at all as we all know it’s a third person shooter but as I said there are elements in The Division that often made me question: should this have been a RPG? Ubisoft tastefully threaded the two genre’s together to produce this explosive adventure. The levelling up system seemed a little complex at first but as with any game I acclimatised pretty quickly. I was shocked at how quickly I picked up the how to’s actually. I recall watching a lot of the Beta footage and thinking at how cluttered the interface looked but don’t let this fool you. The Division is surprisingly user friendly and what’s more my hiatus since Ghost Recon didn’t affect my approach in to the game either!
Instantly I noticed just how beautiful the graphics and textures looked in The Division. Naturally, there are a lot of grey tones, whites, black and browns to compliment the dreadful events that overtook Manhattan. Whilst this may not sound appealing it works deliciously and The Division looks as sharp as a box of needles. On the contrary, there’s some finer graphical details that really pop the textures. The GPS tracking system is yellow which pops nicely against the darker colours of Manhattan. The menu interfaces are lined with orange and yellows too. I played The Division on the PS4 and whilst the PC will destroy any console in terms of looks I was able to see some of the finer details on my characters face and armour; creases, shadows and blemishes looked incredible.
Inanimate objects were less impressive. If I approached to building to try and open a door (knowing I couldn’t enter the building) the graphics were much less impressive. Textures appeared flatter and polygons were shockingly visible. The more I played The Division the more I noticed this flaw. In turn, Manhattan didn’t feel as alive as it felt at the start. It seemed as though the graphics were concentrated highest towards objects of interest AND objects that were quintessentially paramount to a mission.
Guns, guns and more Guns
Melee is definitely not a thing in The Division. Alright so you can push enemies away with your weapon if they come too close but the real focus is down the sight of a gun. Does this detract from the overall gameplay? Perhaps slightly but not overly. I was perfectly content using my AK-47 for most of the missions and when I needed something with less recoil I switched to a gun in the SMG category; supposedly used in more confined spaces but I used my MP-7 in most cases.
At the other ends of the copious amounts of rounds are the enemies. The reels of dregs that lined the streets committing crimes of various natures in The Division. Almost instantly I noticed that the enemies. Although there are different factions to fight against I genuinely struggled to notice a difference in the enemies! There are four enemy factions: Rioters, Cleaners, Rikers and Last Man Battalion. Perhaps you didn’t notice this but me personally I struggled to distinguish. I would have liked to have seen more versatility in the roster.
The pace in The Division was broken up nicely by returning to base; a place where allies were a plenty, upgrades could be purchased and sold on and various other useful suppose could be picked up. This provided a welcome break to the dangers of the Post pandemic Manhattan playground. On that note, The Division’s missions and overall feel started to become a little monotonous very quickly. At first I was completely engrossed in action but after two hours of playtime I started to feel like I’d been going around in circles. Whilst I was free to choose what mission to attempt next there were recommended skill levels to take in to account. This removed a high level of choice in that I was forced to complete side quests to gain XP before moving on. I would have liked more fluidity.
Should you buy it now?
The Division is a thoroughly enjoyable open world MMO. Whilst I would have liked more versatility in mission types, enemies and Manhattan overall, The Division is definitely worth picking up. If you're like me the you'll want to try it before you make your own judgement. Okay so the graphics don't look as sharp as they did in the promotional videos but they're still absolutely stunning. My gripes are all very minor and I can safely say that I'm really impressed with The Division! What worked well for me was to tackle it in smaller chunks rather than binge playing it; that way the monotony didn't seem as intense. Now go and play - Your experience is in your hands!
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and more recently the Nintendo Switch eras of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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